I was sitting in the Minion’s Mess the other day, enjoying my weekly ration of gruel (a thimbleful! I’ve progressed), when the EM walked in (with his spiced lobster with baby fennel, celeriac purée, saffron beurre noisette and fennel chilli mayonnaise) and joined me. We exchanged a few pleasantries. You know the sort of thing: how was life now that I had a candle to light my quarters, did I enjoy knife and fork privileges, third-world economy, the plight of the polar bear, yada yada. Anyway, we got to talking about what to feature in my future posts, and he suggested I could perhaps write about what authors did that I might find just an eensy bit annoying. Good heavens, I thought, that would set me up for the next twelve posts! O-n-l-y j-o-k-i-n-g…honest, honest.
But it was food for thought.
People, generally, are not backward in coming forward. We’re rather good at complaining, aren’t we? The British used not to be…stiff upper lip and all that…but we can sit along with the rest of the complaining community quite happily now. You see, it’s so easy these days: pick up the phone, or write a snotty email. No one can see you, you feel you can say what you want. Why wasn’t my fridge delivered on time? Why is there a dent in my new table? You forgot an item in my parcel. Just not good enough!!!
And yet… How many times do we pick up the phone or write an email to do the exact opposite? Thank you so much for delivering my groceries on time, congratulations on the quality of my brand new sofa. We don’t do it often, do we? Retailers try to make it simpler for us by providing review options on their websites, and more and more people are gradually taking the time to express their opinions (good or bad). But, the proportion of reviews to actual sales of a product are small: for every review, there are probably hundreds of sales.
They write books. For every author out there, there must be a handful of people who are often told, ‘you really ought to write a book’, but never actually sit down and do it. They either say (or think), yeah, right, or, yes, what a good idea. But thinking and doing are two very different issues. So, kudos to those who actually knuckle down and get on with it. A lot of kudos. Their toils are my pleasure.
What else? I learn. Yes, I learn. It matters not whether it’s fiction or non-fiction, but I learn all the time. I learn about different countries, different cultures, sports, pastimes, professions, arts, history. If an author has done his homework, I’m the one who benefits. I learn new words, new phrases, even the odd ‘mot’ of a foreign language. I learn about experiences, survival against the odds. I’m humbled, I’m enthralled, I’m amused.
I’m taken into different worlds. I’m enticed, motivated, and attracted…I may find a new country I’d like to visit, or a new food I’d like to try, or a new sport or new interest, or a person I’d like to find out more about (whom I didn’t realise existed).
I can leave my real life temporarily and be transported into diversity: I can enjoy wealth, extravagance and opulence. I can feel the pain of destitution, neglect or impecunity. I can wonder at the virtues of being able to fly or shapeshift. I can go anywhere, do anything, fall in love with anyone.
I can be drawn into a picture painted by words.
And all of this sitting snuggly on my sofa or in bed (“Reading—it’s the third best thing to do in bed” ~Jarod Kintz) in the comfort of my own home. I can exercise my mind without moving. It’s like spending time with a friend…a little bit of the author lies in his characters, don’t you think? And of course, you can never have too many friends.
All of this because of you, dear authors. So, today, you aren’t getting any complaints from me. Today, I’m ‘virtually’ phoning/emailing to thank you for what you do and the pleasure you give me. And for what you do right.
Look, do me a favour, would you? Don’t tell the EM about this post. I’ll try and make sure I put my Moaning Minnie hat on next time, so this is just between us, this time?